There comes a time in a man’s life when fishing doesn’t always cut it. You crave more than just open waters, fresh air and a relaxing, care free adventure. For me, I wanted smoke, heat and sharp knives! No, not hunting or camping. This is peak Queensland summer, too bloody hot and air condition-less for the outdoors right now. I crave meat, and not one I’ve skinned myself because that’s slightly beyond my skillset and the humidity makes me lethargic. So, I made a promise to myself to take up slow cooking with a smoker.
For a good couple of years, I was using the wife’s slow cooker quite successfully to make delicious pulled pork with the help of some liquid smoke because honestly, to put my pride aside for a moment, the thought of smoking it myself was an intimidating prospect. After a bit of encouragement from a mate a few extra dollarbucks up my sleeve, I took the plunge and invested in a Hark glass door gas smoker that I picked up at Barbecues Galore. After a couple years of experimenting (and a few meats on the dry side) I think I’ve perfected my smoking technique!
We had a pre-Christmas do at the end of last year with friends where I got to flex my smoking skills and managed to remember to document it in between some tasty beverages. You’re going to want to start the day before in order to slow cook it to perfection for about 16-18 hours, and the reason for this is simple science. To achieve the optimal juicy texture, you want to melt the connective tissues, or collagen. Slow cooking will ensure that the collagen turns gelatinous and therefore will easily fall apart when shredded while still staying moist.
I picked up a 5kg Boston Butt (which is actually the pig’s shoulder despite the fun name – so many wasted dad jokes…) for about $50 from Costco and began to prep it by coating the outside with any regular yellow mustard and rubs I got from my local Super Butcher. I use a combination of the Lane’s BBQ Signature and Ancho seasonings. Heat up your smoker to about 225-250 Fahrenheit (110-120 Celsius) and get your wood chips ready (unsoaked). I used a beautiful maple, apple and cherry blend. After your temperature is right and your chips are in, chuck in the pork and enjoy the woody scent while you sleep. Make sure you never keep your smoker in an enclosed area, you’re still working with gas and flame here.
Once you’ve hit your optimal cook time, use a thermometer pen and make sure your meat’s internal temperature has hit between 195-210°F. Take out your pork, wrap it in some butcher’s paper and let your meat rest to allow the juices to distribute throughout the meat and be re-absorbed to ensure that juicy tenderness we want. You may want to test it a little bit prior to serving, you know, for quality control purposes. I make sure I use a good Geisser Soft Grip 21cm Butcher’s knife sharpened by my Chefs Choice CC120 for A) guaranteed razor sharp knives and B) optimum visual impact. Slice a bit of the corner off gently (hence a sharper than sharp Geisser) so as to not break to pork apart too early but just to test it’s moist and tender.
Once you’re ready to serve simply take your pork out of the butcher’s paper, add any sauces you want (for something everyone likes, you can’t go wrong with Stubb’s Hickory Bourbon, or for those who like a bit of spice, Lane’s BBQ Pineapple Chipotle combines fruity sweetness with a nice kick), start to break apart your pork with meat claws or forks and Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt – the perfect smoked pulled pork. We served ours with bread rolls, coleslaw, a hearty potato salad and
a few many local Brisbane ales. So, if you’re looking for a new hobby for 2022 with limited energy and maximum flavour, I highly suggest you buy yourself a smoker.